Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conveniently leaving out facts can change an entire story

Last week that Wisconsin recall election was a huge story. It was interesting how both parties played it the day before; it was considered huge if a party won, but wasn't that big a deal if a party lost. This, of course, made no sense, and just chalk it up to political spin.

What also made no sense was a lost-in-the-shuffle key fact in the aftermath. While Republican Scott Walker won the right to finish his term, Democrats were trumpeting the fact that they won back control of the State Senate.

Okay, fair enough. Win one, lose one, right?

Not so fast. Lots of analysts talked about the Dems getting back control of the Senate, and to the average viewer that meant that Governor Walker would have a really hard time for the rest of his term.

Uh, not so fast.

Turns out a key fact was left out by almost everyone. Turns out the Wisconsin State Senate isn't in session for the rest of the year, and many of those holding seats will face an election this November.

In other words, control of the State Senate means nothing because the group won't be meeting on anything. It is purely symbolic.

This is like the head coach of the New York Giants anointing me as quarterback for the month of June, when the NFL doesn't play.

I'm not sure if analysts and reporters decided not to include that key fact on purpose, or if they simply didn't do their homework. But that was something that should have been common knowledge before the election. And it changes the story in a huge way.

Many of you cover local government on a regular basis, and it is up to you to find out what the repercussions are of any decisions or votes.

Anything involving politics always involves hidden facts that one party or the other doesn't want made public. It's pretty easy to get those facts... just ask someone of the opposing party. For instance, if a reporter had just asked a Republican State Senator from Wisconsin what control of the Senate meant, said reporter would have come up with a very interesting fact. One that changed the whole story.

Remember, politicians will always tell you what they want you to hear. It's up to you to find out what they don't want you to know.


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